The 5 Stages of Yoga Grieving - The End of Life as you Knew It
|Our writer and model Laura Wittig is wearing Prairie Yogi's NEW Summer line of tanks and tights. |
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Ahhhhhhhhh yoga! It’s that beautiful, peaceful journey that calms your mind and strengthens your body. It’s a no-brainer right? This ancient practice has the power to make us feel great inside and out. Why wouldn't you sign up?
If you're anything like me, an ex-competitive dancer turned business school graduate, your first thought is probably “no problem.” I can breathe deeply with the best of 'em and rock a flawless dancers’ pose. How hard could it be? Well as it turns out- quite difficult.
Join me as I reflect on my brutally honest journey of what I like to call my “5 stages of yoga grieving”… for the yogi who just didn’t quite seem to get it.
They want me to lay on my back in complete silence for HOW long?! There is NO way this is a productive use of my time. I already ducked out of my last meeting 15 minutes early and still have to prepare a presentation for Wednesday morning. OH and I am supposed to pop in and meet the girls for coffee at 8. I can’t believe I skipped my power cardio at lunch for this. This is a terrible work out. What am I doing here? Repeat Eagle’s pose? But we just DID eagles pose….. 10 breaths in AND out!
This snippet was a typical mental conversation I would have with myself during my first experiences with yoga. I was a busy gal, and although I thought I was doing a good thing for my mind and my body….. I just didn’t quite buy into it. I thought yoga was an inferior workout to what I was already doing, and I thought it was likely a waste of my time. I’d lie on my mat - the instructor’s guidance entering in one ear and slipping out the other, too busy compiling my weeks “to-do” list to really care what they had to say.
I was in complete yoga denial. But through the persuasion of a friend and a non-refundable month’s pass, I agreed to keep showing up my mat.
AHHHHH. I hurt everywhere! But how? From one hour of stretching and twisting?! I’m normally pretty flexible, that seems unlikely. What do you mean to make it better I should go again today!? I don’t have time for that! You want me to hold dancer’s pose for HOW long on each side, and look where?! Now Camel’s pose?! I think that’s the one I hate.
As you can tell, I had “mixed” emotions about this practice at the start. I wanted to power-through class the way I was used to powering through life. I wanted all of my poses to look beautiful in the mirror, and would quickly become frustrated when I couldn’t do something properly, or master something right away. I wanted the poses to instantly make me stronger and healthier, and more relaxed, without having to listen or absorb the instructions. What does “relax your mind" even mean?! I didn’t know, and at the time, I wasn’t overly motivated to find out.
Okay. I’ve been at this for a while now and know the series pretty well, thanks for my keen memory for choreography. I’ve heard the same instructions over and over again, with a few different spins on it, and some interesting ideas on what my mind should be doing, now that my body got the routine down pat. “What if” just what if I try something crazy and lay in the back row today, instead of front and centre. What if I don’t focus so intently on trying to do everything perfectly? What if I even do something CRAZY like skip Camel’s pose all together- I’m really not feeling it today. But everyone else is going to do it still. Well I guess who cares. This is my practice, and that is theirs.
This was the tipping point, and it was all due to my own mental arguments, and my decision to actually start listening. I had been practicing for a few months now, and was starting to see some physical benefits, so I kept going. I was eating better, and sleeping better, but this was the class that I decided try something really crazy- and actually convinced myself to try and absorb what the instructor was saying. You want me to clear my mind for the next hour? Think of NOTHING!? No lists, no ego, no plans? Well that sounds pretty crazy but okay self, let’s try it out….
You mean I can do an intense 90 minute flow series and come out feeling more relaxed than I went in? I can train my mind to do things that I thought were mentally and physically impossible for me before? I can stop thinking and getting caught up on the seemingly millions of things that I need to get done each week and just enjoy the moment?
As sad as it may sound, these were all things that up until now, were extremely difficult for me to do. I had my weeks booked up in advance, and I made little time for me. Yoga had become my hour a day that I could use to just STOP, and just be.
This was also the first time in my life that I realized what my own breath really felt like… just how good that tiny simple little pleasure was.
This was partially because I decided to try Yoga class, but mostly all because I decided to stop and actually listen one day.
It was the day that I decided I was exhausted, and that I actually really wanted to start feeling better.
I have been practicing Yoga for about eight years now. Sometimes I go regularly, and sometimes I won’t go for months at a time. Some days my practice seems flawless and some days I can’t seem to balance more than a couple seconds. Some days I mentally float through the entire series and some days I still can’t manage to stop making lists in my head.
When I go to yoga though, no matter how my day or week have been, I go there with a calm mind, and wonderful intentions to just do the best that I can do. When I lie on the mat now, it is usually the most relaxing feeling that I have had all day.
I have accepted that Yoga isn’t necessarily about being a great workout, or an instant “spiritual journey.” It is what you put it to it, and what you choose to get out of it.
There is one thing holds common for me now in Yoga. Every single time I practice, when I roll out my mat and take my first Savasana, I close my eyes, grow a huge smile, and take a giant breath… grateful to have given myself the time to just be there.
This moment, and the benefits of that feeling are things that I could never have explained to “me-eight-years-ago.”
Laura Wittig - Born and raised a prairie girl, I have always embraced and loved the wonderful things Winnipeg has had to offer me. I have been blessed with many opportunities personally and professionally- even when there aren’t enough hours in the day. I am lucky to be able to volunteer my spare time to many amazing causes and groups, and love being a puppy mom to my three adorable fur babies. Yoga has been one of the ways I have learned to make time for myself, and live in the moment- which can be more challenging than it sounds. Thanks to Prairie Yogi for extending so much love and allowing me to be a part of your inspiring community.